In This Review

Moi: The Making of an African Statesman
Moi: The Making of an African Statesman
By Andrew Morton
Trafalgar Square, 1998, 224 pp.

Morton, whose earlier output includes Monica's Story and several potboilers on the British royals, pioneers new territory with this public-relations biography of Kenya's president. He tries valiantly to accentuate the positive in Daniel arap Moi's lackluster record, but winds up portraying a leader whose mediocrity is excusable because the blame for his poor performance supposedly lies with others. As Morton would have it, Moi's incompetent and corrupt appointees constantly sabotage his well-intentioned plans. His security services "lack a tradition of public service," a holdover from colonialism. Intellectuals, students, and vengeful pro-democracy dissidents try to undermine his philosophy of peace, love, and unity. He believes in following "proper democratic procedure," but the irritating opinions of judges make this impossible. The self-serving proponents of a New World Order dictate that Africans must adopt multiparty democracy, but Moi's deep peasant wisdom tells him that his one-party government is best for Kenya. He is vindicated when an uncontrollable campaign of ethnic cleansing erupts in his home province after the one-party system is abandoned. And so on. A sorry effort to burnish the image of a sorry regime.